Homework Help

Consider Hard Times as a social satire.

user profile pic

sujathasonar | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 18, 2011 at 5:19 PM via web

dislike 1 like

Consider Hard Times as a social satire.

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 18, 2011 at 7:28 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

This excellent Dickensian classic promotes the fear that the author had of the impact of embracing industrialisation in society and how this would, in turn, inhibit humanity and turn them into machines, stunting their emotional and intellectual development. Note how in the novel, both Gradgrind and Bounderby follow this approach, though in different environments. Gradgrind brings up his children and his students to focus on "Facts" alone, eschewing any form of fancy or the emotions. Bounderby treats his workers, referred to with the dehumanising title of "Hands," in a similar way, as his workers are objects whom he exploits to better himself.

Notice the link that Dickens draws between Gradgrind's children and Bounderby and Coketown society in terms of their philosphical approach to life in Chapter Five:

Fact, fact, fact, everywhere in the material aspect of the town; fact, fact, fact, everywhere in the immaterial. The M'Choakumchild school was all fact, and the school of design was all fact, and the relations between master and man were all fact, and everything was fact between the lying-in-hospital and the cemetry, and what you couldn't state in figures, or show to be purchaseable in the cheapest market and saleable in the dearest, was not, and never should be, world without end, Amen.

Note the repetition of the word "fact" and the way that there is no room for emotion, for fancy, or for anything that cannot be purchased or sold or quantified. Dickens thus presents us with a view of life that removes emotion and the imagination, and which makes humanity suffer as a result.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes